Ok, that hurt… a lot. Edward Aldrich winced in pain as he tried to sit up. Why does my chest hurt? Where am I? He blinked his eyes open and his vision came into focus slowly. It took only a brief moment to remember where he was and what had happened that brought him here.

Part of his brain was trying to tell him that he was still in a dream, or in a coma. After all, there are no alternate worlds where there are technicolored people living side by side with Burmecians and Mithra in a Viking village! This is fantasy, make-believe. The plane had crashed and he had survived. He was in a hospital in a coma or something. Yes. That’s it.

But people in dreams don’t feel pain do they?

Well, if their body is in pain, then it is likely they do, yes.

And why am I in pain again?

Well, first there was the plane crash. Then there was the fighting. I am out of shape after all and it could just be a lot of stiffness from that too.

… and what were you fighting again?

Something that looked like a cross between a Space Marine out of his power armor and a gorilla… unless it was a Space Wolf, those guys are always hairy and smell bad.

Never mind the fact that a single Space Marine without any weapons would utterly destroy each and every one of us—they aren’t ten feet tall on their best days—that doesn’t answer the important question:  Why in blazes would you go and do something that fucking STUPID in the first place?

To defend the Viking village of course! We did tell them that we would help after all. Wait… 

… exactly. Now, get up there is work to do.

Edward groaned and pulled himself to his feet and staggered to where he was keeping his clothing. He remembered now. He had volunteered to help the people of Fyrkat village against the so-called ‘Giant People’. He vaguely remembered organizing the fighters into a combat line and leading an attack with bows and flaming arrows. He remembered angrily charging the largest of the lot in some foolish show of bravado that would have made Kamina smile with approval and Shinji cringe under a rock somewhere to cry like a baby (that is what he did after all). He remembered the giant’s fist hitting him squarely in the face and chest. He remembered taking a blow that could, very likely, shatter stone… and he took it like a man, he did not move.

He stopped just before putting on a t-shirt as he fully realized what had happened. He took a punch that was closer to being hit by a truck than anything else and he did not move. Sure, he fell out immediately afterwards but he did… not… move.

A grin tugged at his lips as everything started to sink in. Fyrkat was populated by Burmecians, or, rather, Leaping People and, more importantly Mithra. Ok, Hunting People. Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-to. It didn’t matter. Edward found himself in a village that had real, living, breathing catgirls and that was enough for him.

As Edward pulled on his shirt, he made a mental note to talk to Donovan about his speech the other day. He had no desire to go home. Granted there was no running water or electricity, but he had suffered through training and deployments that were harder than this. A shudder went through his body as he recalled the atrocity that was NTC and remembered why he left tanks for computers in the first place. Still, he found it easy to fall back on the training and habits that got him through those years. As Edward thought about it further, another realization hit him: it was entirely likely that he would never see another anime again. Just by being here meant that he was most likely going to miss out on the remainder of this year’s convention circuit and pre-reg for next year’s. Then there was the fact that any anime he had with him on the business trip was in his actual luggage, which was missing and likely destroyed. Not that it mattered; it was not like there was a DVD player or something anyway. Edward frowned as the reality of his situation took root; even if he wanted to go home, it wasn’t likely going to happen and either way he only had what few manga he had brought with him and salvaged from the wreck. He was effectively cut off entirely from the one thing he enjoyed about his miserable existence.

The combination of these realizations and his own lack of self-worth, Edward made his way from the guest quarters the villagers of Fyrkat had offered to him and the others while they stayed with them. He knew that there was work to do, but not the nature of this work or the extent of what he could do considering his injuries. Better find someone to talk to about stuff that needs to get done… 

Edward’s entire train of thought was suddenly derailed as he watched a handful of Hunting People walk past him on some errand. While there certainly were males of the group, Edward couldn’t help but find his eyes drawn to the sleek movements of the females. What in the hell am I doing? Sure, I likely won’t ever see another anime or read another manga ever again, but who cares? I’m in one! Sure the catgirls aren’t scantly clad, but I know they’re hawt! Who needs to watch or read about it when I can live it? At that Edward stood a little taller, or at least as tall as his cracked ribs would allow him to anyway. As he had told himself several times already, there was work to do and if he was going to stay, he had best show these people that he could contribute more than just being able to take a beating.

As he traversed the village, it became quickly apparent that because of his injuries, there was little that he could do. Well, there was little that he could do without ‘breaking profile’, as he had gotten into the habit of calling the doctor’s orders, or putting himself in extreme pain (which he had varying success in ignoring). On one hand, this was a bit of a downer, but he also realized that the exchange of information and ideas was also a way to contribute as well...

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